Thinking Beyond „Crisis“ – Symposium in Berlin

City: BOX Freiraum
Boxhagener Str. 93/96

Wann: 17.05.2016 , 2-10 pm

Historians, artists, journalists from all backgrounds will, together with unaccompanied Afghan minors, try out ways of speaking, to overcome the „crisis“- and „emergency“-imaginary that is dominating the discourse on migration in Europe.

The event will take place in BOX Freiraum, as a collaboration with Bard College Berlin, the Centre for Contemporary History Potsdam, the Hannah Arendt Center/Annandale and ‘wir machen das.’ 

It is also the launch event for a Scholarship Network that will support Bard College Berlin in giving safe haven to up to 20 refugee students.


Here is a description of what the Symposium aims at, by Kerry Bystrom/Bard College Berlin:
News reports on recent refugees and asylum seekers in Europe rotate around terms like “crisis” and “emergency.” “Humanitarian crisis” is the concept regularly used to define the enormous human costs of the journeys taken by migrants and the inability of Germany and other host countries to properly receive and “integrate” them.
Such framing has strong implications. The notion of “emergency” tends to isolate events within the present and demand an urgent response to supposedly temporary deviations from the normal order of things.
It calls for immediate relief of human suffering, not complex historical reckonings and still less fundamental political or social change.
It thus perpetuates a long tradition of dehistoricizing, depolicitizing, and ultimately silencing refugees while at the same time confirming the superiority of white, Western cultures and “expert” technocratic opinion.

In this symposium we aim not only to interrogate the meanings of “crisis” and “emergency” but also to envision different ways of engaging with the individuals now claiming both a space and a voice in Europe and the different futures these alternative approaches might enable.
What are the outlines and the closures of the “emergency imaginary” (Calhoun) that has unfolded in the German media over the past year?
How can it be supplemented or supplanted with different kinds of stories or visions, including those found in the arts, which might enable—minimally—forms of exchange and mutual adjustment and—maximally—the rooting of radically cosmopolitan communities?
Further, how does the debate change when we bring history back into the picture? What happens when we dig deeply into the political context and aims of current migrants, as well as when we think this recent wave of migration to Europe jointly with those unleashed by World War I, World War II and the Cold War? When we reread the experiences of refugees from these earlier eras and theories built in response to them?

Over the course of the symposium, renowned scholars, artists, journalists from all backgrounds will engage with these questions in dialogue with each other and with the work of Hannah Arendt, who speaks to us both as a refugee and on refugees.
Unaccompanied minors from Afganistan will read from their own poetry. In the process, they all will help us reimagine the arrival of asylum seekers and other migrants from an exercise of “crisis management” or “problem-solving” to a shared opportunity, in Arendt’s sense, to make a world in common.